Wall Street Journal Europe regarding Japanese Mutual Funds

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Atlantic Financial Seeks a Partner To Market Mutual Funds in Japan

6 January 1999

The Wall Street Journal Europe

SINGAPORE -- U.S. brokerage house Atlantic Financial is looking to break into Japan's pension and mutual-fund market and is seeking a local partner, said Bruce Fenton, the company's president.

If successful, such an alliance would be a first with an Asian partner for the U.S. company, he said. "What we'd be looking for is a brokerage firm or a bank with an existing client base and its own sales force," Mr. Fenton said. "We can provide the product and alliances with American mutual fund companies."

Eighty percent of Atlantic's business is in mutual funds, including pension plans, while the remainder is in standard brokerage products such as stocks and bonds. Atlantic offers some 6,500 mutual funds from such major fund groups as Fidelity Investments, Alliance Capital Management and Putnam. The company is affiliated with Fidelity, which undertakes its clearing and holds client assets.

"Japan is the area right now, which we're probably most aggressive about," Mr. Fenton said. "We already have contact (in Japan) with our affiliates like Fidelity and Putnam and can leverage on their resources."

Mr. Fenton, who founded Atlantic three and a half years ago, said the likely adoption of the U.S.-style 401K pension plans in Japan, the country's high savings rate and large economy make that market an attractive opportunity.

The search for a partner began a few months ago and is still in the early stages, he said. Any alliance will likely be informal initially, he said, adding that he would be open to "talking about a merger or acquisition."

In the meantime, Atlantic is flexible about its prerequisites for a partner, and the company's small size means it can move quickly on decisions, he said.

"We don't really need to have a large sales force (in Japan)," he said. "It could be a small, boutique-type of brokerage with 20 or 30 representatives, as long as it feels it can be profitable."

Atlantic also is building on the company's existing relationships with its affiliates. "If we have a particular client that's interested in using our services, we can bring in Fidelity, which has employees who can speak the language," Mr. Fenton said.
(Copyright (c) 1999, Dow Jones & Company, Inc.)

By Camille Klass
Dow Jones Newswires
6 January 1999

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